Saturday, I had the great pleasure of spending all day studying under a couple of amazing yoga instructors. One was our very own Joe Taft, who did a workshop with us at Mountain Yoga a couple of weeks ago. The other was the legendary founder of Anusara Yoga, John Friend.
I loved both sessions, and always learn so much from Joe. But John introduced a concept or two that might just change my body for good. For most of my life, I was told that I had excessive lumbar lordosis (too much curve in my low back) and that I needed to strengthen my abs, to ease my back pain. As John said, “you did a good job!” He actually encouraged me to bring that curve back.
For the last couple of years, I’ve had a nagging pain in my left hip. At times, this has affected my practice, and my teaching. During John’s class yesterday, he encouraged a strong use of the gluteal muscles, and creating space in the pelvic floor…a concept I knew, but rarely employed, because of my lordosis. But by sivasana, I knew I had done too much. Before he rang the bell, I had to bend my knees to take the spasm out of my low back. After class, I approached him in pain.
John looked at my normal standing posture, and had me shift the tops of my femurs back, essentially sticking my butt out, and sitting down into my legs a little more. Ahhh….sudden relief… But is it just temporary? John says no; that changing my stance back to what my body WANTS to do naturally will heal my hip in short order.
Needless to say, after all these years, I’m a little skeptical. But I’m willing to try. So, if you see me with my pelvis tucked under, give me a gentle reminder.
One more lesson from John Friend. He has been practicing and teaching yoga for many, many years. He developed a world-renowned yogic system, which has helped to heal thousands of bodies and minds. But in humility, he brought a different concept to us yesterday. Because he watched and learned from his students, he is able to change and adapt his teaching. It’s all about learning, growing and healing. And that may be my biggest take-away from practicing yoga with the famous John Friend.